A seething tension between Egypt’s security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi boiled over on Wednesday after riot police moved into two encampments in Cairo.
Interim President Adly Mansour declared a month-long state of emergency, which took effect at 10 a.m. ET, to counter the subsequent bloody fighting that left at least 149 dead and 1,403 injured, according to Egypt’s health ministry. Witnesses and pro-Morsi volunteers have insisted that the toll is much higher.
Casualties so far include the 17-year-old daughter of a top Muslim Brotherhood leader and two foreign media journalists. To protest the violent onslaught, interim Vice President Mohamed Mustafa El Baradei promptly resigned.
The office of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement to condemn the violence “in the strongest terms” and call for restraint from both sides.
“In the aftermath of today's violence, the Secretary-General urges all Egyptians to concentrate their efforts on promoting genuinely inclusive reconciliation,” read the statement.
A number of countries, including Turkey, Great Britain and Italy, reiterated the Secretary-General’s concern, expressing deep concern over the brutal crackdown.
"An armed intervention against civilian people who stage protests is unacceptable, regardless of its justification," said Turkey’s President Abdullah, who spoke publicly in a recent televised appearance.
"The international community, especially the U.N. Security Council and Arab League, must act immediately to stop this massacre."
A White House spokesperson urged against a return to a state of emergency and called on the government to "respect basic human rights such as freedom of peaceful assembly, and due process under the law."
The sit-ins were organized in July to protest the ousting of Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president. Political violence ensued after army forces overthrew the leader 12-months into his rule, which has resulted in more than 300 deaths.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)